[Special considerations in therapy of injuries of the cervical spine in ankylosing spondylitis (Bechterew disease)]

Unfallchirurg. 2001 Dec;104(12):1129-33. doi: 10.1007/s001130170003.
[Article in German]


Cervical spine changed by Bechterew's disease is severely endangered with any increased load. Even decent trauma is enough to produce a fracture with affection of spinal cord. Because of little knowledge in these special items, late diagnosis of overlooked injury is not rare, especially in two-level injuries. Neurolesions following secondary fracture dislocations may occur ("fatal pause"). From january 1990 to february 2000 12 patients underwent surgery (dorsoventral stabilisation, ventral stabilisation, laminectomy). Diagnostic procedures, levels of injury, pre- and postoperative neurostatus (following Frankel's score), operative technique, typical complications and follow-up (Ø 17.8 months) were analyzed and compared with the literature. 11 patients showed preoperative neurodeficits. They were better in five cases and disappeared at all in another five cases after surgery (83% positive neurological outcome). There was no increase of neurology failure. Two patients died (ARDS and cerebral ischemia with destruction of vertebral arteries). One patient had to be reoperated because of implant dislocation. MRI is obvious in diagnostic for these lesions. There is also an absolute need for total (both clinical and radiological) examination of the whole spinal column, because there is often injury of more than one level (three times in our study). Therapy should be operative (dorsoventral stabilisation, in certain cases only anterior procedure or laminectomy). Late diagnosis and therapy with secondary worsening after fracture dislocation is not rare because of "overlooked injury". There were four patients, that would not have suffered cervical spine fracture (minimal injury force) without Bechterew's changes. There is often pulmonary failure through limitation of thoracic movement and cerebral ischemia following rupture of vertebral arteries as typical complications. Mortality (2 cases; 16%) in our collective is less than literature's medium rates (35-57%).

Publication types

  • English Abstract

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cervical Vertebrae / injuries*
  • Cervical Vertebrae / pathology
  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Laminectomy*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnosis
  • Risk Factors
  • Spinal Cord Compression / diagnosis
  • Spinal Cord Compression / etiology
  • Spinal Cord Compression / surgery
  • Spinal Fractures / diagnosis
  • Spinal Fractures / etiology
  • Spinal Fractures / surgery*
  • Spinal Fusion*
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / complications
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / diagnosis
  • Spondylitis, Ankylosing / surgery*